Precision CNC Machining - Aerospace Parts Manufacturing

Written by Abigail    2022-10-11

The production capacity of aerospace precision machining can reflect a country's national defense technology and economic strength. And aerospace manufacturing on CNC technology and equipment is a very clear and urgent demand. The number, performance, precision, processing capability, and application level of CNC machine tools are significant to the aerospace industry.


Part 1. Manufacturing Aerospace Parts through CNC Machining

Application 1: Sheet Metal Buttons and User Interface Panels

Sheet metal is a low-cost option for fabricating custom interface panels for integration into off-the-shelf components. Sheet metal-specific fasteners such as PEM brackets and inserts effectively add threaded holes and tabs to thin sheet metal parts.


Application 2: Assembly Tools and Fixtures

Materials such as aluminum 6061-T6 and polyoxymethylene (POM) are often used in assembly tools because of their relatively low cost and ease of processing. Paraformaldehyde (POM) is also a good choice for preventing damage to interface components or when low friction is required.


Application 3: Mass Simulation and Vibration Test Fixtures

Because the flight is a non-static environment, electromechanical components and payloads are often subjected to high-frequency vibrations. The effects of such vibrations are difficult to simulate, so physically accelerated life cycle testing on a shaker plate is often a critical step.

Shaker tables often have strict weight limits when designing fixtures to ensure safe operating parameters. The smaller the mass occupied by the fixture, the larger the test assembly.


Application 4: Machined Aerospace Structures and Airframe Components

An equal-grid structure can reduce total weight while maintaining stiffness and ensuring uniform planar material properties. However, this strategy can significantly increase machine time and thus cost. Use equal-grid structures only when weight reduction is critical, and implement other strategies to facilitate fabrication, such as using the largest possible corner radii.


Application 5: Avionics and sensor housings

Machined housings are a great way to protect delicate sensors, such as commercial cameras, from harsh environments. To reduce weight, aluminum alloys are a common material used. Anodic oxide coatings effectively protect machined parts from corrosion while providing a harder, wear-resistant outer surface.


Avionics and sensor housings

Image Source: mastercam

Part 2. Why does aerospace industry use CNC machining?

The aviation industry has very high or even demanding requirements for its products' structural design, function, performance, product quality, and reliability. Many new materials and structures are first applied to aircraft components. National defense needs and market competition require significantly shorter aerospace product development and production cycles. In addition, the average cost of the final product needs to be constantly reduced, thus placing higher demands on aerospace manufacturing and requiring advanced manufacturing technologies. Modern CNC machining is a key part of advanced manufacturing technology and has become a powerful key technology, especially in aerospace manufacturing. The following advantages of CNC machining services make it very important in aerospace precision machining.

1. CNC machining is a process that integrates multiple advanced technology types, including computer technology, communication technology, modern manufacturing technology, digital control technology, etc.

2. When using CNC machining, you only need to change the settings and parameters of the CNC machine to achieve the development of a new product and another batch of machining, greatly increasing automation and flexibility.

3. CNC can automatically complete multiple machining on one machine or clamping, greatly reducing machining time and production cycle and improving efficiency.

4. CNC machining can improve the accuracy and precision of aerospace products, reduce or minimize manufacturing errors, and provide CNC aircraft parts with higher quality and durability.


aerospace precision machining

Image Source: danobatgrinding

Part 3. What are the commonly used materials for CNC machined aerospace parts?

Many critical aerospace components, such as the hot parts of jet engines, are made from nickel-based high-temperature alloys. These aerospace materials are characterized by their ability to provide superior performance in harsh environments. This quality stems from their outstanding high-temperature strength, toughness, hardness, oxidation/chemical resistance, creep resistance, and thermal insulation properties. While these properties make these materials an excellent choice for such components, they also make them difficult to machine. Some of the challenges faced by machinists working with nickel-based high-temperature alloys include

High cutting force requirements. Nickel-based high-temperature alloys' high dynamic shear strength requires significant cutting forces to machine the material into the desired part or product.

Poor thermal conductivity. Because nickel-based high-temperature alloys do not easily conduct heat, the heat generated by the cutting operation is transferred to the tool rather than to the chip. As a result, machine tools experience greater wear and tear during these machining operations compared to machining operations on other materials.

Sensitivity to work hardening. High-temperature alloys are susceptible to work hardening, which leads to a greater risk of chip wear.


Image Source: fastradius

Part 4. Utilize 5-axis CNC Machining to Produce Aerospace Parts

In the aerospace machining industry, 5-axis CNC machining is required for everything from large aircraft shells to core high-strength engine housings.

The fuselage structure is usually composed of beams, trusses, spacers, and skins, all large, especially the skins with curvature. Common aircraft fuselage in the 5-axis CNC machining center can be a clamping after the overall skin milling, tapping, and other processes, greatly improving the efficiency and accuracy of processing.

Wing ribs and spacer frames, such as the need for deep excavation, and processing of a large number of workpieces, will produce a large number of scraps and a long processing time for a single piece. 5-axis CNC machining machine can be vertical table ground and automatically change the machining table. Not only does it save clamping time, but also the scrap falls directly, so there is no time wasted in cleaning and no machining obstacles caused by the accumulation of scrap.

Structures such as airline seats and luggage racks inside the machine require a lot of tapping, boring, and milling processes. In the 5-axis CNC machining center, with a precision CNC machine shop, automatic tool changes can be made during each process, maintaining high efficiency despite a large amount of machining.

Engine cases are often made from difficult-to-machine raw materials, such as titanium and high-temperature alloys. Unstable parts, long machining ratios, and difficult materials are challenges when profile milling engine cases.

Some 5-axis CNC machining machines use a vertical and horizontal transfer head with a rotary table to divide the machining area according to the structure of the magazine part and improve the machining accuracy and efficiency by systematically setting the rotation angle of the rotary table and the angle of the milling head.


aerospace precision machining

Image Source: MACHINIST

Part 5. CNC Machining Services at Wenext

If you are looking for CNC machining companies, Wenext provides CNC machining services, including 3-axis,4-axis, and 5-axis. If you have a demand for CNC machining, you can upload your file on Wenext. We will check it and quote the price for free. Our customer success manager will respond to you shortly after the file is uploaded to the website. We can make precision parts and deliver them to you as soon as possible.

cnc machine shop

Please feel free to try instant quoting on our website or contact us hello@wenext.com if you are interested.

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